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    Programme 2000-2003

Programme 2000-2003

Introduction

This section presents the results of the 24 projects which comprised the first medium term programme of activities of the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML). The publications resulting from all the projects which have tfaken place at the Centre can be downloaded from the following page: ECML publications.

Publications

1.1 The organisation and set-up of language education

Learning more than one language efficiently: tertiary language teaching and learning in Europe

In many countries, children are offered at least two foreign languages, which are often taught separately. Research shows, however, that different languages can complement each other during the learning process. Is it possible to create synergies in the teaching and learning of subsequent languages? This was what our project wanted to examine.
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What were the aims of our project?

We wanted to consider how learning a subsequent or tertiary language can build on knowledge acquired in the learning of a first foreign language. This required us to:

  • explore and develop the linguistic basis for the planning and structuring of tertiary language teaching
  • present ideas for a methodological outline for tertiary language teaching and learning
  • consider how instruction in the first foreign language (usually English) can be planned and carried out in order to open the door to the learning of further foreign languages.

How did we investigate these questions and draw conclusions?

We held an initial conference in Graz and network meetings in Munich. In addition, regional workshops on the specific circumstances of those regions were held in Riga and Biel/Bienne. The focus of these events was ‘German after English’.

We investigated related factors such as:
  • structural closeness and differences between first and subsequent foreign languages
  • consequences of multilingual circumstances on didactic considerations
  • the age factor in tertiary language learning
  • the influence of multilingual teaching concepts on tertiary language didactics (language awareness, immersion, tandem teaching etc.)
  • examples of good practices.

What were the main results of the project?

That a didactic approach specifically geared towards tertiary languages is necessary and useful. That each region needs its own language-specific variant. That in the future we will have to consider how to broaden a language-specific approach to support multiple language learning in general.

Where can you read more about the results of our project?

  • In the ECML publication: Mehr als eine Fremdsprache effizient lernen: Tertiärsprachen lehren und lernen in Europa. Beispiel: Deutsch als Folgefremdsprache nach Englisch (Workshop Bericht Nr. 11/2000)
  • In the ECML publication: Mehrsprachigkeitskonzept - Tertiärsprachenlernen - Deutsch nach Englisch
  • In the correspondence learning materials: Deutsch im Kontext anderer Sprachen, Tertiärsprachendidaktik: Deutsch nach Englisch (Gerhard Neuner, Britta Hufeisen, Anta Kursisa, Ute Koithan, Nicole Marx, Sabine Erlenwein), München, Goethe Institut Inter Nationes (Erprobungsfassung) 2003.

Coordinators:
Gerhard Neuner & Britta Hufeisen (Germany)

Project team:
Maria Cristina Berger (Italy), Annie Fayolle-Dietl (Switzerland), Ute Koithan (Germany), Christine Le Pape (Switzerland), Nicole Marx (Germany), Ljubov Mavrodieva (Bulgaria), Jean Racine (Switzerland), Ursula Viita-Leskelä (Finland)

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The Organisation of Language Education in Small States

The project provided the opportunity to highlight the work of small states in language policy, the programmes established and the human resources required to ensure diversity and high quality in language teaching.
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What were the aims of our project?

The project provided the opportunity to highlight the work of small states in language policy, the programmes established and the human resources required to ensure diversity and high quality in language teaching. Specifically the aims were to:

  • develop an overview of the subject area
  • raise awareness of the (most different) characteristics of the organisation of language teaching in small states to make them available to a wider public
  • highlight the importance of the multilingual context specific to small states.

How did we investigate these questions and draw conclusions?

To approach the topic, a set of case descriptions from ive countries was first finalised before organising the regional event in Andorra. At the workshop 35 national and international participants were able to discuss the theories, practices and results of the case studies. The event combined exhibitions, conferences, visits to educational centres as well as debates and exchanges in the working group sessions. Following the workshop the case studies, the proceedings of the workshop and a presentation of the results were compiled in a publication.

What were the main results of the project?

It was clearly illustrated that common tendencies do exist in the majority of small states in Europe and that geographical, historical, political and economic factors as well as ethnic composition and cultural tradition have a strong influence on the position of language teaching. At the same time differences were highlighted and explored in order to establish their origins. The challenges faced were met in terms of quantity (diversification of the languages taught in schools, human resources required for the teaching of languages) and quality (methodological options, scientific expertise on determining factors, relationships between multilingualism and multiculturalism).

Where can you read more about the results of our project?

  • See the ECML publication “The organisation of language education in small states”.

Coordinators:
Francesca Junyent Montagne (Andorra)

Project team:
Maria Teresa Cairat Vila (Andorra) Antoinette Camilleri Grima (Malta) Kalevi Pohjala (Finland)

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Neighbouring Language Teaching in Border Regions

Europe is rapidly developing, particularly in its border regions. It is precisely in these areas that the need for knowledge of neighbouring languages is both at its strongest and most varied. Approaches adapted to their specific situation are required in order for these regions to quickly become real-life language learning laboratories and centres of innovation.
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Different practices in border regions ?

The project has enabled the identification of approaches, which fully benefit from the geographical proximity of the other language. One example is the method of tandem learning, where pairs of pupils on either side of the border can help each one to learn the other’s language. In other areas lessons bring together pupils from both sides of the border and offer a form of bilingual and bilateral teaching. Yet there are many border regions still inexperienced in this subject area.

How can good practice be disseminated ?

Through this project, CICERO, a coordinating body has been set up to disseminate good practice in this area. An online database, also established within the framework of the project, contains project descriptions, practical advice, names of experts and latest news which can help to improve knowledge and know-how. Various publications with the same aims have also been printed. Seminars held in a number of border regions have proved even more effective, enabling activities to take place in regions in diverse contexts such as the Basque country where French and Spanish rub shoulders and Basque is the common language, and in a region between Estonia and Russia where the language border has yet to be drawn.

Taking action

Despite the concrete results achieved in certain regions the dissemination of examples of good practice has not yet led to a widespread improvement in teaching. For this reason, right from the outset, we have organised information campaigns as well as awareness-raising and dissemination actions with local, regional and national authorities. These promote both the learning of the culture and the language of one’s neighbour in order to achieve greater understanding between the peoples of Europe, an aim which we will continue to work towards.

Where can you read more about the results of our project?

  • Further details can be found on the CD-ROM “Neighbouring languages in border regions” and on the website www.cicero-net.nl.

Coordinators:
Ruud Halink (Netherlands)

Project team:
Albert Raasch (Germany) Gabriele Schmitz-Schwamborn (Netherlands) Ulrike Schwarz (Germany) Juri Valge (Estonia)

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Literacy as Correspondence- An Integrated Approach to Multi-Literacy

How do teachers and learners manage literacy instruction in their first, second or subsequent languages amid the many complex issues which have to be dealt with in the process? What can we learn by comparing various approaches?
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What were the aims of our project?

We wanted to:

  • find out if there are common elements and links between methods of teaching literacy in first/ second/foreign language in the European context
  • present examples of how first and subsequent literacies are taught
  • reflect upon methods of literacy instruction, identify appropriate techniques for specific circumstances while taking account of difficulties or facilitating conditions
  • set up research network groups to investigate and compare literacy instruction in first, second/subsequent literacy teaching.

How did we investigate these questions and draw conclusions?

We investigated related factors such as:

  • Workshop participants completed a questionnaire providing information about the first, second, foreign literacy instruction in their country.
  • Presentations by the team focused on the relationship between first & second literacy teaching in several countries.
  • Participants were invited to identify concerns in the teaching of literacy in their context. They also identified similarities & differences between first/second/subsequent literacies
  • Research network groups were formed on the basis of children acquiring first literacy in L2; second literacy in L2; second literacy in a FL.

What were the main results of the project?

  • Teaching first and/or second literacy in European countries is carried out by the same teacher in a number of countries and by different teachers in an equal number of countries.
  • Some attempts are made to link the teaching of first & second literacies; others believe that these should be kept separate.
  • Phonics are emphasized in the teaching of first literacy. Phonic and a whole word approach are equally favourite options for teaching 2nd literacy.
  • Basal readers are the most important/favourite resource in teaching 1st literacy; basal readers, story books and communicative activities are favourite resources for 2nd literacy.
  • Similarities and differences in literacy instruction are found in social, psychological, pragmatic, communicative, cognitive and teaching aspects.

Where can you read more about the results of our project?

  • In the ECML publication ‘Issues in multi-literacy’

Coordinators:
Valerie Sollars (Malta)

Project team:
Monica Axelsson (Sweden) Frank Bulthuis (Netherlands) Martina Krizaj Ortar (Slovenia) Christl Meixner (Austria) Janez Skela (Slovenia) Ulla-Kaisa Ylinen (Finland)

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Foreign Language Teaching and Learning in the Context of Twin Cities

The twinning of cities, towns and municipalities represents the emergence of the largest platform for cross-cultural meeting and exchange in modern times. Yet a fusion between fellow citizens of Europe can surely not be achieved without first seriously addressing the issues surrounding language learning and language diversity?
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What were the aims of our project?

We wanted to find out:

  • if an adequate level of communication had been achieved between partners during the exchanges and, if so, in which languages
  • what proportion of twin cities/towns prepared for visits to their partners by offering language courses and if so for which languages
  • how frequent school twinnings were and to what extent they coincided with the twinning of cities and towns
  • if the school twinnings were sufficiently exploited from a linguistic and cultural point of view
  • if the potential of the twin cities and towns was successfully realised and exploited to promote languages in Europe
  • at what point was the knowledge of languages deemed an essential factor for a common and diversified European citizenship

How did we investigate these questions and draw conclusions?

We tested a preliminary questionnaire on a small number of towns and then drafted a questionnaire in three languages: French, English, German. Results were received from 81 towns and cities from 16 countries covering a total of 328 twinnings. We subsequently analysed the written responses from both a statistical and qualitative perspective.

Our working methods

That a didactic approach specifically geared towards tertiary languages is necessary and useful. That each region needs its own language-specific variant. That in the future we will have to consider how to broaden a language-specific approach to support multiple language learning in general.

What were the findings of the survey?

  • The use of English is widespread but unevenly distributed
  • The issue of linguistic diversity is universally present, although to varying degrees
  • The use of a third language other than English is common
  • The evaluation of exchanges is almost always measured in terms of the quality of communication between participants
  • There is a general interest in organising language courses for adults
  • The obstacle most frequently encountered is the financing of language classes
  • We observe a contradiction between the desire to communicate and stated political motivation and yet the limited number of language classes
  • The benefits of school exchanges are generally recognised and are often continued through personal relationships. However, many school exchanges are arranged outside the framework of twin towns and cities
  • It is not uncommon for classes to visit their partner school yet these visits are rarely coupled with a real educational dimension
  • A knowledge of languages is an essential part of bringing cultures closer together and generating a European outlook
  • Exchanges between twin towns and cities have proved to be a powerful factor in eradicating clichés, stereotypes and the most common xenophobic images
  • The true potential for twinnings has not been reached; an effort should be made to systematically promote such exchanges.

Where can you read more about the results of our project?

ECML website: www.ecml.at

Coordinators:
Gilbert Dalgalian (France)

Project team:
Séverine Boulery (France) Jaqueline Feuillet-Thieberger (France) Helena Kalve (Latvia) Aspasia Nanaki (Greece) Anita Vaivade (Latvia)

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1.2 Language awareness, intercultural competence, and multilingual matters

Janua Linguarum – The Gateway to Languages – The Introduction of Language Awareness into the Curriculum: Awakening to Languages

Discovering at school the diversity of languages and cultures, hearing dozens of languages, seeing how they are written, comparing them and understanding how they function, discovering those who speak them – a fascinating subject for schoolchildren! One which educates them, opens them up to things that are different from their own experience and develops their capacities for language observation and language learning.
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What is awakening to languages?

It is comparative classroom work, looking at a number of languages of different status, including the various languages spoken by children in the class. It can be started from nursery school and can be continued throughout schooling. It is often dealt with by generalist teachers who are not language specialists and who, though not speaking all these languages, are provided with specific teaching materials. In secondary education, it represents an excellent opportunity for language specialists to do interdisciplinary teaching. At all levels, language awareness is a cross-curricular discipline which contributes to the objectives of the other school subjects.

What is the function of awakening to languges?

It is an approach which corresponds closely to the Council of Europe’s current work to promote democratic citizenship and extend language diversity in education systems. It introduces children to language diversity and accepts them in the diversity of their own languages. It also accompanies school pupils into the world of language learning.

Awakening to languages aims to develop:

  • positive attitudes to diversity of language and culture and the enhancement of minority languages and cultures in the eyes of all (including those who speak them);
  • an aptitude for listening to languages and analysing them which encourages and facilitates the learning and use of them (including the school’s vehicular language);
  • wide-ranging knowledge about languages (development of a language culture).

What purposes does Ja-Ling-Tthe gateway to language serve?

  • Awakening to languages has its own history! Ja-Ling draws on the experience of previous projects to provide a programme for disseminating this approach and for studying the conditions of its introduction into curricula. Ja-Ling has facilitated the setting up of activities in 16 European countries. It has prompted a better understanding of the variety of ways in which awakening to languages can be introduced, depending on the conditions (links to school programmes, inclusion in timetables, connections to other subjects, appropriation by teachers etc). Ja-Ling has made it possible to have a clearer vision of the various obstacles to be overcome – and of the successes to be achieved!

Coordinators:
Michel Candelier (France)

Project team:

Mercedes Bernaus (Spain) Ingelore Oomen-Welke (Germany) Christiane Perregaux (Switzerland) Janina Zielinska (Poland)

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Cultural Mediation and the Teaching and Learning of Languages

This training project for learning about research through research brought together representatives from over 25 of the ECML member countries. Its results are contained in a publication and a set of recommendations addressed to policymakers, the overall aim of which is the introduction of cultural mediation into the debate on language didactics.
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What were the aims of our project?

Whereas most innovations in language didactics appear in the form of new teaching tools, the “Cultural mediation and the teaching and learning of languages” project chose to follow a new path by adopting a “learning by doing” approach to research.

It attempted to tackle several challenges:

  • to experience the variety of different teaching cultures of the participants as a source of innovation rather than as an obstacle;
  • to adopt a pluridisciplinary approach by introducing references taken from the social sciences in order to develop reflection on the role of languages in social cohesion;
  • to provide a range of focused answers to a question hitherto little addressed in language didactics: “What is the place for cultural mediation?”.

A publication and recommendations for policy-makers?

Readers may judge the success of this project from the publication and the recommendations coming out of it, particularly:

  • chapters 1 and 2, which give a general introduction;
  • chapters 3 to 7, which present the approaches and results of the five sub-projects carried out by participants;
  • chapters 8 and 9, which provide an evaluation of the project and trace out guidelines for future work.
  • A network of researchers devoted to the question of cultural mediation, bringing together different European institutions, should work on concrete follow-up to this project.

Where can you read more about the results of our project?

  • ECML Website www.ecml.at

Coordinators:
Geneviève Zarate, (France)

Project team:
Aline Gohard-Radenkovic, (Switzerland) Denise Lussier, (Canada) Hermine Penz, (Austria)

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Incorporating Intercultural Communicative Competence in Teacher Education

It is of great importance to increase intercultural understanding in Europe today. Therefore, language teachers should be encouraged to shift the focus from teaching only lexical and grammatical competence to emphasizing, teaching and practising intercultural communication strategies in their classrooms. Incorporating intercultural communication training in language teacher education would have a beneficial multiplying effect.
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What were the aims of our project?

  • to research the state-of-the-art of language and culture teaching
  • to present the results of research into language and culture teaching to participants of two workshops organized by the ECML
  • to raise the participating trainers’ awareness of the importance of intercultural communication training in language teacher education
  • to suggest guidelines for evaluating and adapting teaching materials and for developing intercultural communication courses for teacher education

How did we investigate these questions and draw conclusions?

We carried out a questionnaire study to find out how culture is taught in the English language classroom. As a follow-up, we interviewed language teachers to see why culture seems to be neglected. We presented the results of these two studies to language teacher trainers at a central workshop, and invited them to form five networks to continue the research and development in five different, but interrelated domains of intercultural communication training.

What were the main results of the project?

Intercultural communication training seems to be neglected. Since it is not an integral part of the curriculum, it is often missing from teaching materials and it is rarely tested at exams. Furthermore, teachers often do not feel competent to handle cultural issues because they are rarely trained how to do it.

Where can you read more about the results of our project?

  • In a practical intercultural communication textbook entitled ´Mirrors and Windows´, which can be used in intermediate-advanced language classes as well as methodology and intercultural communication courses in teacher training programmes.
  • In a collection of articles entitled ´Incorporating intercultural communicative competence in language teacher education´, which describe the most important findings of our research into teachers’ perception of teaching culture, materials evaluation and testing intercultural communicative competence. These are available on CD-ROM.

Coordinators:
Ildikó Lázár (Hungary)

Project team:
Lucyna Aleksandrowicz-Pedich (Poland) Rafn Kjartansson (Iceland) Liljana Skopinskaja (Estonia)

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Mediating between Theory and Practice in the Context of Different Learning Cultures and Languages

Teachers are constantly inundated by theories of learning and teaching, both old and new. But are these theories relevant to the needs of teachers and learners? Do they actually influence teaching and bring benefits to the classroom or are they simply ignored like water off a duck’s back?
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What were the aims of our project?

We wanted to find out:

  • what actually happens in the classroom
  • what kinds of theories of learning and teaching are most influential at the beginning of the new millennium
  • how strongly these theories influence the ways in which languages are actually taught in classrooms across Europe (the theory-practice ‘interface’)
  • whether foreign languages are taught in different ways in different countries ( = ‘learning cultures’)
  • whether different languages are taught in different ways, and if so, why

How did we investigate these questions and draw conclusions?

Before the workshop we compiled two questionnaires, one for teachers and one for students, asking them about how languages were taught and learned at their schools. Participants from 13 countries carried out this survey and brought the results to the workshop. During the workshop we discussed theories, classroom practice and the findings of the questionnaires. After the workshop, participants contributed to a comprehensive publication on different aspects of the theory-practice relationship.

What were the main results of the project?

There are marked common tendencies which can be found in most European countries: the ‘Communicative Approach’ to language teaching is well established but ‘traditional teaching’ is still influential. Modern technology (computers, internet) has surprisingly little influence in many countries. More needs to be done by official bodies and teacher training institutes to support new forms of learning (learner autonomy, e-learning etc.) There is sometimes a gap between theories popular with linguists and methodologists and classroom practice. Steps to improve ‘mediation’ between theory and practice need to be taken. Participants made recommendations as to how this area may be improved.

Where can you read more about the results of our project?

  • In the ECML publication 'Mediating between theory and practice in the context of different learning cultures and languages'.

Coordinators:
David Newby (Austria)

Project team:
Mária Kostelníková (Slovakia) Isabel Landsiedler (Austria) Indra Odina (Latvia) Christien van Gool (Netherlands)

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Odysseus-Second Language at the Workplace

Millions of immigrants and members of ethnic minorities whose first language is not the language spoken by the majority population of the country of residence live and work in Europe. Their social and economic integration and participation is an imperative for a democratic Europe. Vocational and workplace-related second language provision plays a key role in integration and participation.
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Why second language at the workplace?

Communicative competences are pivotal elements of vocational and professional performance at all hierarchical levels for all employees. Immigrant and ethnic workers are particularly in danger of social and economic exclusion if they are not able to participate actively in workplace communication especially in times of increasing mobility in work and society.

How did we investigate these questions and draw conclusions?

To approach the topic, a set of case descriptions from ive countries was first finalised before organising the regional event in Andorra. At the workshop 35 national and international participants were able to discuss the theories, practices and results of the case studies. The event combined exhibitions, conferences, visits to educational centres as well as debates and exchanges in the working group sessions. Following the workshop the case studies, the proceedings of the workshop and a presentation of the results were compiled in a publication.

What is second language at the workplace?

Language is not only a structural system but is social practice. How it is used depends on the context and on the community in which it is used. Language provision should therefore understand that language has situated meanings and should explore how it is used and is linked to other social practices in particular contexts. The content and focus of language provision at the workplace is thus selected according to the social practices within a specific workplace. Both learners and their employers profit from this type of provision. The first group learn what is needed at their workplace since their learning is reinforced through being exposed to the language and having to use it. Employers also profit since improved communication at the workplace impacts positively on the performance of the company.

Who has to be involved?

The Odysseus network advocates a whole organisational approach involving all players in communication. It rejects a deficit-oriented, assimilatory approach focusing on the lack of competences and needs of individuals since this does not take into account individual strengths and social factors within workplaces which impact on performance. Moreover, it fails to have an influence on communications desired by both employers and employees.

How to set up provision?

“ODYSSEUS - Second language at the workplace: Language needs of migrant workers”
This project was carried out with the support of the European Commission.
For more information:
ECML website: www.ecml.at

Coordinators:
Matilde Grünhage-Monetti (Germany)

Project team:
Annet Berntsen (Netherlands) Elwine Halewijn (Netherlands) Chris Holland (New Zealand) Andreas Klepp (Germany)

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Cultural Awareness and Language Awareness Based on Dialogic Interaction with Texts in Foreign Language Learning

Dialogue and interaction have become buzz words in relation to teaching and learning. What are the theoretical and practical implications of these concepts for the development of intercultural awareness and language awareness?
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What were the aims of our project?

This project was initiated during an earlier ECML workshop and was based on the project team members’ wish to investigate further certain aspects of intercultural awareness and language awareness.

We wanted to:

  • define and discuss certain theoretical concepts related to the teaching and learning of foreign languages, such as dialogue, communication, intercultural awareness and language awareness
  • add linguistic, philosophical and other relevant theories from our teaching cultures to the generally accepted Anglo-American theories of foreign language learning
  • investigate the role played by various types of texts used in the foreign language classroom at both school and university level
  • define and investigate dialogic approaches to working with texts
  • develop language awareness and intercultural awareness by working with various types of literary texts in the classroom
  • develop language awareness and intercultural awareness by working with digital text exchanges between students of different cultural backgrounds
  • investigate the roles of teacher and learner and the interaction between them

What were the main foci of the project?

In the project we wanted to investigate the learning potential of different kinds of textual encounters with the foreign culture: encounters with literary texts, including dramatic texts, learner-produced texts and digital texts. By organising a number of learning situations, various aspects of interaction between learner and text were explored. The discussion of approaches to literary and other authentic texts was based on theoretical explorations of the relationship between reader and text, in which reading and writing processes are regarded as dynamic dialogues with the foreign culture.

Interaction was a key concept and involved interaction not only between reader and text, but also between cultures, between learners, and between teacher and learners.

What were the outcomes of the project?

The resulting publication consists of four articles where relevant theory is discussed and practical classroom examples presented. The age group of learners ranges from lower secondary school to university. Dialogic interaction with texts is the common denominator of the four articles. In all of them the student takes centre stage in the learning processes and the teacher’s role is one of mediator in the individual’s learning process. In no way are the articles intended as recipes for foreign language teaching, but as theoretical and practical explorations of concepts like dialogue, communication, intercultural awareness and language awareness

Where can you read more about the results of our project?

  • The ECML Website www.ecml.at

Coordinators:
Anne-Brit Fenner (Norway)

Project team:
Marina Katnic´-Bakarsˇic´ (Bosnia and Herzegovina) Mária Kostelníková (Slovakia) Hermine Penz (Austria)

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How Strange! The use of Anecdotes in the Development of Intercultural Competence

Most people could tell anecdotes about strange intercultural experiences when visiting another country. It was our idea to collect such anecdotes on the ECML web site and to use these as a means of analysing and teaching intercultural competence in the classroom.
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What were the aims of our project?
 

  • To create a database of intercultural anecdotes. This consists of true to life instances of failure in communication due to cultural differences. Rather than simply theorising about cultural differences, we wanted to have examples that illustrate some of the cultural details that catch the eye of the newcomer to the culture. The contributors have also explained why they found certain events or behaviours strange, and how they managed to understand and cope with the differences. Some interesting reactions to difference are outlined.
  • To propose ways of using anecdotes to teach intercultural competence. Anecdotes provide authentic samples of behaviours, attitudes, beliefs and expectations that could form the basis of a variety of classroom work. The anecdotes could either be used as they are presented by contributors, or scrutinized by teachers and learners for the underlying intercultural issues.

What were the main results of the project?

A small database of intercultural anecdotes from various L1 speakers visiting different countries and encountering cultural varieties world-wide.

A publication which provides some theoretical background to the issue of intercultural competence. The book also contains plenty of ideas for use at classroom level. These could serve to develop intercultural competence alongside the traditional four language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing.

The publication

The ultimate aim of the publication is to empower teachers and learners to arrive at a critical imagination of intercultural issues and events, utilizing a varied range of experiences in the form of an international database of anecdotes. Thanks to the teaching and learning methods proposed, they should be better equipped to deal with difference in a multilingual and multicultural society.

You can get more information about the project from:

The ECML publication “How Strange! The use of anecdotes in the development of intercultural competence”.

Coordinators:
Antoinette Camilleri Grima (Malta)

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1.3 Information and computer technologies

Information and Communication Technologies in Vocationally Oriented Language Learning

How can teachers cope with the demands of the “Information Society”, the flood of information from the Internet and harness the resources offered by ICT to improve the teaching and learning of languages in vocational contexts?
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What were the aims of our project?

In the course of our project, we wished to:

  • familiarise teachers and teacher trainers with the use of information and communication technologies (ICT)
  • show them how to use the new media now available
  • show how useful ICT is for vocationally oriented language learning (VOLL)
  • produce a website to publicise the results of our workshops and illustrate the many positive aspects of ICT in VOLL
  • provide samples of good practice taken from various vocational sectors

How did we implement our ideas?

We ran six workshops: the first at the ECML set up structures and parameters for training workshops with sample materials. “Regional” (learning by doing and reflecting) workshops in Austria, Germany, Finland and Russia then built on and developed the concepts, creating and publishing sample materials from participants’ own teaching environments. The final workshop pulled all the strands together so that the results could be published on the “GRAZVOLL” website.

What were the main results of the project?

The main achievement of the workshop series is the production of the GRAZVOLL website. It provides an introduction to the use of ICT in VOLL: theoretical underpinning, suggestions for teacher training, sections on data driven learning, web literacy, use of platforms etc., together with case studies illustrating applications of programs described. In addition, an international team of multipliers from over 30 countries trained in ICT in VOLL is now available for consultation or for training activities based upon project results.

Where can you read more about the results of our project?

  • In the ECML publication ‘Information and Communication Technologies in Vocationally Oriented Language Learning’ (booklet and CD-ROM) and a the GRAZVOLL website (see below).

Coordinators:
Anthony Fitzpatrick (Germany)

Project team:
Andreas Lund (Norway) Bernard Moro (France) Bernd Rüschoff (Germany) Debra Dianne Ali-Lawson (Switzerland) Enrica Flamini (Italy) Franz Mittendorfer (Austria) Irina Smoliannikova (Russia) Olav Talberg (Norway)

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The Educational Use of ICT in Teacher Education and Distance Language Learning-Opportunities, Challenges and Ways Forward

Who hasn’t dreamed of being able to harness the power of information technologies to enhance language learning? Who doesn’t regret being unable to make best use of existing tools, not to mention keeping up with the latest advances? What better opportunity to come to grips with it all than an ECML project?
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What did we hope to achieve as a result of this project?

To encourage those who had already tried to integrate ICT in language teaching/learning in general and in distance language learning in particular to write up their experience in the form of a short case study.

  • To develop tools to enable teachers and learners to evaluate the appropriateness and effectiveness of specific tools for (distance) language learning and teacher education.
  • To carry out some (modest) projects where language teachers and teacher educators could try out ICT with the aim of designing a teacher education course module.
  • We all wished to profit from the experience of our Finnish colleague in the use of an interactive platform, BSCW, (Basic Support for Collaborative Work).

How did we set about it?

We held a preliminary 3-day Think Tank to discuss our different professional experience and expectations of ICT. The outcome was a project team with a considerable range of different experience and a mutual desire to move ahead. We worked hard to find the ‘ideal’ participants’ profile: people who would share their skills but not feel uncomfortable when asked to work with new tools.

How did the workship go?

We’re happy to report our ‘profiling’ really worked. The 30 participants from 27 countries were all eager not only to give the others the benefit of their experience of information technologies but to try out the tools provided by the ECML. What was perhaps innovative was that participants were only “allowed” to communicate with other members of the group by means of the BSCW interactive platform. The favourite tools of traditional interactive workshops (comments posted up on the wall, posters, etc), were replaced by different Web pages created by the participants to report on group work and start discussion forums.

What has happened since?

We’ve all learned a lot, including the fact that it’s easier to motivate people you see face-to-face than those you can only communicate with electronically. Unless ICT is a core activity, it is difficult to encourage teams (of students or educators) to use it regularly.

What are the outcomes?

The concrete outcome is a CD-ROM that describes our experiences and lists resources. It also contains a number of case studies that exemplify some of the activities in the field. One ´virtual´ outcome is the fact that the BSCW was widely used by workshop participants for their own purposes above and beyond our ECML project. And that is exactly what we were aiming for – to have teachers learn to feel comfortable with one sophisticated communication tool, in this case, an interactive platform.

Coordinators:
Daphne Goodfellow (France)

Project team:
Anne-Brit Fenner (Norway) Cecilia Garrido (United Kingdom) Seppo Tella (Finland)

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ICT and Young Language Learners (The Stars Project)

By giving access to a wealth of authentic language materials, the World Wide Web is an excellent resource for teachers and learners of foreign languages. But there is a potentially more productive and engaging role of the Web in foreign language learning – that of a publishing medium.
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What were the aims of our project?

We wanted to:

  • investigate how information and communications technologies can promote a learner-centred, communicative, thematic approach to foreign language teaching;
  • investigate the use of the Web as a publishing medium for children learning a foreign language;
  • learn how best to support a culturally and linguistically diverse community of learners;
  • investigate technology-rich language pedagogies;
  • learn how to design child-friendly software interfaces and platforms.

How did we go about investigating these questions and drawing conclusions?

We created a Web tool which children could use unaided to publish their stories on the Web. We then created a story line in which four cuddly characters traveled around Europe between the various participating schools. Using the web tool, children wrote and published stories in the foreign language about the adventures of these characters in their travels from one school to another. Teachers used the story line as an ongoing theme around which to develop their foreign language curriculum.

What were the main results of the project?

We found that:

  • most children were enthusiastic about using the web tool to write and publish their stories – they quickly got used to the system and had few inhibitions about expressing themselves in the foreign language;
  • children generally find it difficult to work as part of a virtual, Internet-mediated community – they had no problems using the web tool to publish their stories, but rarely communicated directly (via email) with other learners;
  • European countries vary greatly in the importance they attach to the issue of language correctness in learners' published productions.

Where can you read more about the results of our project?

  • In the ECML publication ‘Information and Communication Technologies and young language learners’, which includes a CD of the children's productions.

Coordinators:
Mario Camilleri (Malta) Valerie Sollars (Malta)

Project team:
Helena Leja (Poland) Teresa Martines del Piñal (Spain) Zoltán Poór (Hungary)

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1.4 Quality assurance in International Cooperation in Language Education

A Guide to Project Management

Running successful projects isn’t easy. The Guide to Project Management provides hints on planning, running, budgeting and assessing projects.
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What were the aims of our project?

We wanted to provide a guide to help those running projects inside and outside the ECML on:

  • the nature of projects and how to plan them
  • the practical features of project management –setting deadlines, making budgets, converting them to every day practice
  • exploring how teams work – involving, motivating and optimising the work of those involved
  • assessing project outcomes and communicating results effectively

How was the guide developed?

The guide was a by-product of another ECML project on innovatory approaches to the organisation and set up of language education (Project 1.1.1).

The team realised that project management was an important part of implementing successful projects, and that many educators lacked experience of doing this. It was decided that practical guidelines could be helpful to those running small projects as part of the work of the ECML and that it could also be useful in other contexts.

What were the main results of the project?

The “Guide to Project Management” consists of a short book, illustrated with cartoons together with a CD-ROM of resources for project management. These include examples of project budgets and time planning software, as well as a set of questionnaires to be used as self-assessment for project managers. There is a special section on the issues involved in participating in international projects.

Where can you read more about the results of our project?

In the ECML publication “A Guide to Project Management”

Coordinators:
Frank Heyworth (Switzerland)

Project team:
Denise Lussier (Canada) Eva Marquardt (Germany) Peter Medgyes (Hungary)

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2.1 Change in Teacher Education

The Status of Language Educators

Language educators perceive an unquestionable lack of recognition of their social and educational status. To begin overcoming this problem, we wanted our voice to be heard, our faces to be seen, our professional beliefs, ideals and goals to be recognised. Some have and some have not. Never mind, we’ll be back!
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What did we try to achieve?

  • We tried to increase the visibility of practitioners of our profession.
  • We identified the key constituents of the status of language educators, and asked teachers how they think they affect their professional status.
  • We encouraged the formulation of an informal bself-definition of the profession by its representatives.
  • We equipped teaching professionals with skills they can make use of in their quest for a higher professional and social status.

What were our key tools to achieve the aims?

We set up an interactive portrait gallery, Teacher of the Week, on the ECML website, while an online forum gauged reactions about the key constituents of status. In two workshops, participants from about 30 countries created a metaphorical self-definition of language educators called Language Teachers’ Wonderland. The document describes a set of conditions among which language educators wish to operate and develop as professionals.

What are the results of the project?

Although we did not carry out systematic research on the status of language educators, the data gathered about perceived status confirmed the general beliefs, despite the diverse professional background of participants. However, the concrete needs expressed, the solutions recommended, the means envisaged to help language educators raise their profiles show similar diversity. One shared professional wish has, however, transpired: language educators operate in an educational setting in which individual shareholders cannot achieve their own goals unless they continually and purposefully co-operate with several others for the mutual benefits of the profession. And that is exactly what dozens of our colleagues have initiated and/or are carrying out in their own contexts. They are convinced that, with the help of the network they established during and after the workshop, they will be able to contribute to raising the profile of all educators.

Coordinators:
Péter Rádai (Hungary)

Project team:
Mercedes Bernaus (Spain)Gabriela Matei (Romania) Derk Sassen (Netherlands)

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Facing the Future – Language educators Across Europe

What will be the role of the language teacher in the future? Is the existing paradigm still valid? Providing language education for a multi-lingual, multicultural Europe provides new challenges and new opportunities.
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What were the aims of our project?

• the roles and tasks of language teachers today, teachers’ views on their profession
• how language education might change in the next five to ten years to meet the needs of a changing society
• the educative and social roles of language educators
• the consequences of these changes for teacher education.

What were our key tools to achieve the aims?

We set up an interactive portrait gallery, Teacher of the Week, on the ECML website, while an online forum gauged reactions about the key constituents of status. In two workshops, participants from about 30 countries created a metaphorical self-definition of language educators called Language Teachers’ Wonderland. The document describes a set of conditions among which language educators wish to operate and develop as professionals.

How did we go about developing these ideas ?

The project was based on a “Think Tank” on teachereducation which identified the need to define therole of teachers as a prerequisite to defining their training needs. In two workshops and through a research fellowship, in which teachers’ views on their profession were collected by means of a questionnaire, we were able to give teachers the opportunity to reflect on their profession. The members of the team explored possible changes needed to meet the demands of a changing society and these are the basis of the project publication.

What were the main results of the project?

The present pattern of language education may not be the best to meet the needs of the Europe of today and tomorrow. It will be essential to give a voice to the heritage languages of migrants and to reflect the diversity of languages and culture. The educative role of language educators is an important one – to help learners to become autonomous and independent, to develop awareness of diversity and tolerance and respect for others. Teachers’ professional development will need to reflect these additional tasks.

Where can you read more about the results of our project?

In the ECML publication 'Facing the future - Language educators across Europe'.

Coordinators:
Frank Heyworth (Switzerland)

Project team:
Véronique Dupuis (France) Ksenija Leban (Slovenia) Margit Szesztay Hungary) Teresa Tinsley (United Kingdom)

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Reflective Teacher Education-Case Studies

The studies in this collection give interesting perspectives on such important themes as lifelong learning, learner autonomy, partnership between professionals and the teacherclient relationship. It is abundantly clear that the message which emerges from this collection is that the individual must be equipped to play a full and useful part in a plurilingual world. It is the job of the teacher educator and teacher to prepare, using the practice, the citizens of tomorrow.
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What did we try to achieve?

The primary purpose in producing this collection of case studies in Teacher Education is provide a mechanism for sharing good practice. One hopes that this will afford colleagues an opportunity to reflect on the ideas which lie behind this good practice. In the Information Age it is essential that we have access to current information and practices as they relate to our professional lives. The range of geographical and sector spreads would seem to provide some breadth and depth to our insights into the working practices of colleagues from some of the member states.

What were our key tools to achieve the aims?

The idea to bring together a number of case studies arose during a workshop in Graz, December 1998, which set itself the task of looking at changes and developments in the provision of pre-service language teacher education. While it is clear that each member state has its own view on what is most appropriate for its learners, there is also the consideration of language as a tool for bringing closer together the peoples of Europe and beyond. The ECML is ideally placed to act as a nodal point for the dissemination of practice collected from the member states via, in this context, its publications programme.

What are the results of the project?

Learner autonomy has proved to be a useful tool for language learning as teachers’ role has changed to that of facilitators of learning.

Where can you read more about the results of our project?

ECML website: www.ecml.at

Coordinators:
Richard Easton

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Development for a Pedagogical Kit for use by Language Trainers and Teachers in the Classroom

We believe that language teachers should have a Europe-wide perspective on language teaching and should be given the opportunity to acquire the necessary know-how.
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What were the project's objectives?

  • The team was composed of language teachers who think it necessary to reflect on the relationship between language-teaching programmes and European trends in the matter.
  • We wanted to get to know for ourselves and bring to the attention of our colleagues the utility of instruments like the Common European Framework and the European Language Portfolio.
  • In the team’s opinion, a “personalised” presentation of European language-education policy will make it easier to “digest”.

What were it's results?

The kit exists both in pdf format, on the ECML website, and in a paper version, but it is not yet complete! The questions we ask are intended to prompt you to reflect and send us your reactions. We count on our readers’ advice to help us improve and complete the work.

How did we go about developing these ideas ?

The project was based on a “Think Tank” on teachereducation which identified the need to define therole of teachers as a prerequisite to defining their training needs. In two workshops and through a research fellowship, in which teachers’ views on their profession were collected by means of a questionnaire, we were able to give teachers the opportunity to reflect on their profession. The members of the team explored possible changes needed to meet the demands of a changing society and these are the basis of the project publication.

A brief description of the kit ?

Part A
A general presentation of the Council of Europe’s language policy; questions are raised in this part in order to guide the reader and encourage discussion. We have added a section giving basic reference material.
Part B
A detailed description of the profession of primary and secondary school language teacher, looking in particular at: what are: our responsibilities, role and tasks our skills our resources who are our pupils
Part C
An “open” toolbox containing methods and activities related to Part B. These tools can be used in initial or in-service training or in classwork and in school projects. We hope that our colleagues will help us to enrich this kit with their own examples of good practice!

Where can you read more about the results of our project?

The ECML Website: www.ecml.at

Coordinators:
Gábor Boldizsár (Hungary)

Project team:
Magdalena Bedynska (Poland) Anthony DeGabriele (Malta) Geneviève Girard (France) Daina Kazlauskaité (Lithuania) Krystyna Kowalczyk (Poland) José Joaquin Moreno Artesero (Spain) Zoltán Poór (Hungary) Márta Szálka (Hungary)

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2.2 The Common European Framework of Reference

Bergen "Can Do" Project

The European Language Portfolio (ELP) is gaining currency at all levels of education in Europe. But how do we go about maintaining
the basic principles of the ELP, while ensuring it ‘works’ with our students? How can we be sure it matches their real world? And might it contain
more?
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What were our principal aims?

We wanted to find a way of adapting and supplementing ELP components so that these truly reflected the world of lower secondary school language learners, and would provide the basis of a useful classroom portfolio.

How did we go about doing this ?

Adapting ELP: Based on a range of surveys held among pupils and their teachers, we put together a comprehensive picture of what pupils around the age of 14-16 years appear to do in their language use. In the course of a series of workshops and meetings these results were incorporated into ‘Can Do statements’ and overall competence levels that seemed to capture the real world of these pupils. Supplementing ELP: By consultation with teachers and holding classroom trialling, we compiled material in order to document how pupils performed across a range of classroom activities. Moreover, by holding an essay competition, we were able to get an insight into which aspects of cultural knowledge were important for pupils in order to prepare the ground for the possible assessment of this competence in a portfolio. The work was done in three phases, beginning locally around the city of Bergen, then including all Nordic and Baltic countries, and finally presenting the work to a Pan-European group at the final workshop.

What were the main results?

These lie in both the products – levels, ´Can Dos´, and self assessment forms – and the processes followed, reflected in the survey materials.

Where can you read more about the results of our project?

In the can-do website: www.ecml.at/cando, and the ECML publication: The Bergen ´Can Do´ Project.

Coordinators:
Angela Hasselgreen (Norway)

Project team:
Signe Holm-Larsen (Denmark) Violeta Kaledaite (Lithuania)

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Helping Learners Learn; Exploring Strategy Instruction in Language Classrooms Across Europe

Why is it that some people seem to have a ‘knack’ for learning languages and others find it such a painful process? We now know that successful language learners automatically develop a wide range of learning strategies. Can these strategies be identified and taught to others? If so, how?
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What were the aims of our project?

The Common European Framework of Reference recognises the importance of language learning strategies but we felt that teachers needed clear guidance as to how to teach them. So we wanted to explore:

• how to go about strategy instruction
• whether strategies could be taught for different skills and to learners of different ages
• what were the effects of strategy instruction on these learners

What were our key tools to achieve the aims?

We set up an interactive portrait gallery, Teacher of the Week, on the ECML website, while an online forum gauged reactions about the key constituents of status. In two workshops, participants from about 30 countries created a metaphorical self-definition of language educators called Language Teachers’ Wonderland. The document describes a set of conditions among which language educators wish to operate and develop as professionals.

How did we investigate these questions?

We agreed on certain common principles for strategy instruction. Then each delegate tried out materials based on certain skills and strategies and evaluated the results. The skill area chosen and the age of the learners depended on the delegate’s particular national context. The final publication not only provides concrete, practical teaching materials but also links our findings to theoretical insights from research.

What were the main results of the project?

Regardless of age and skill area, strategy instruction can help to improve learners’ performance and motivation and develop greater autonomy. However, it needs to be systematic, include opportunities for extensive practice and provide students with clear guidance on how to plan and evaluate their learning for themselves. Teachers also need support in working out how to integrate strategy instruction into their teaching on a regular basis and deciding which strategies to teach when.

Where can you read more about the results of our project?

In the ECML publication ‘Helping learners learn; exploring strategy instruction in language classrooms across Europe’.

Coordinators:
Vee Harris (United Kingdom)

Project team:
Alberto Gaspar (Portugal) Barry Jones (United Kingdom) Hafdis Ingvarsdottir (Iceland) Renate Neuburg (Austria) Ildiko Palos (Hungary)
Ilse Schindler (Austria)

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Quality Assurance and Self-Assessment for Schools and Teachers

“Are we doing the right things?” and “Are we doing things right?” are key twin questions in the application of quality procedures in any domain. In language education there is a need to have a clear and coherent idea of what are the “right things” and procedures for checking that we are “doing things right”.
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What were the objectives of the project?

• To consolidate the process towards quality assurance in language education, in both the state and the private sectors, within the framework of European co-operation
• To adapt and disseminate systems and approaches developed at European level and in different country contexts
• To encourage professionals representing different languages to speak ‘the same language’ when addressing quality issues.

What were the main outcomes of the project?

• A practical guide in the form of a CD-ROM and a website - "Quality Management in Language Education”
• The process of producing the CD-ROM
• A network of professionals in the field.

The CD-ROM/website "Quality Management in Language Education” is a resource material, reflecting the collaborative work of participants from over 30 countries in Europe. It is intended to present the project results to the wider audience all over Europe
and beyond. The project and CD-ROM were awarded the European Label 2002 for innovation in language education.

What can be found on the CD-ROM/Website?

1. generic aspects of quality management in language education
2. standards and procedures developed at European level
3. case studies from various national and institutional contexts, as examples of good practice
4. instruments for internal and external quality assurance
5. interviews with experts to reflect the latest developments in the field
6. links and contacts for further information.

Where can you read more about the results of our project?

ECML website: www.ecml.at/html/quality/index.htm

Coordinators:
Laura Muresan (Romania)

Project team:

Frank Heyworth (Switzerland) Maria Matheidesz (Hungary) Mary Rose (United Kingdom) Web-designer: Ileana Racoviceanu (Romania)

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